Configuration and Benchmarking Setup

First, a word of thanks. The help of several people was crucial in making this review happen:

  • My colleague Tijl Deneut of the Sizing Server Lab, who spend countless hours together with me in our labs. Sizing Servers is an academic lab of Howest (University Ghent, Belgium).
  • Roel De Frene of "Tripple S" (Server Storage Solutions), which lent us a lot of interesting hardware: the Supermicro SC846TQ-R900B, 16 WD enterprise drives, an Areca 1680 controller and more. S3S is a European company that focuses on servers and storage.
  • Deborah Paquin of Strategic Communications, inc. and Nick Knupffer of Intel US.

As mentioned, S3S sent us the Supermicro SC846TQ-R900B, which you can turn into a massive storage server. The server features a 900W (1+1) power supply to power a dual Xeon ("Harpertown") motherboard and up to 24 3.5" hot-swappable drive bays.

We used two different controllers to avoid letting the controller color this review too much. When you are using up to eight SLC SSDs in RAID 0, where each disk can push up to 250 MB/s through the RAID card, it is clear that the HBA can make a difference. Our two controllers are:

Adaptec 5805 SATA-II/SAS HBA
Firmware 5.2-0 (16501) 2009-02-18
1200MHz IOP348 (Dual-core)
512MB 533MHz/ECC (Write-Back)

Firmware v1.46 2009-1-6
1200MHz IOP348 (Dual-core)
512MB 533MHz/ECC (Write-Back)

Both controllers use the same I/O CPU and more or less the same cache configuration, but the firmware will still make a difference as you will see further. Below you can see the inside of our Storage server, featuring:

  • 1x quad-core Harpertown E5420 2.5GHz and X5470 3.3GHz
  • 4x2GB 667MHz FB-DIMM (the photo shows it equipped with 8x2GB)
  • Supermicro X7DBN mainboard (Intel 5000P "Blackford" Chipset)
  • Windows 2003 SP2

The small 2.5" SLC drives are plugged in the large 3.5" cages:

We used the following disks:

  • Intel SSD X25-E SLC SSDSA2SH032G1GN 32GB
  • WDC WD1000FYPS-01ZKB0 1TB (SATA)
  • Seagate Cheetah 15000RPM 300GB ST3300655SS (SAS)

Next is the software setup.

Disk strategies IOMeter/SQLIO Software Setup
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  • shady28 - Sunday, November 15, 2009 - link

    I would have really like to see single drive performance of SAS 15K drives vs SSDs. The cost of a SAS controller ($60) + a 15K 150Gig drive ($110-$160) is less than any of the high end SSDs, and about the same as a low end SSD. It's a viable option to get a 15K Drive, but very difficult to see what is the best choice when looking at RAID configs and database IOPs.
  • newriter27 - Tuesday, May 5, 2009 - link

    What was the Queue Depth setting used with IOmeter? Was it maintained consistently?

    Also, how come no response times?

  • mikeblas - Friday, April 17, 2009 - link

    Intel has posted a firmware upgrade for their SSD drives which tries to address the write leveling problem. The patch improves matters, somewhat, but the overall performance level from the drives is still completely unacceptable for production applications.

    You can find it here:">
  • Lifted - Sunday, April 12, 2009 - link

    I like it!
  • turrican2097 - Monday, March 30, 2009 - link

    Please mention or correct this on your article.
    1) You should mention that the price per GB is 65x higher than the 1TB drives, since you chose to include them.
    2) Your WD is a poor performance 5400RPM Green Power drive:">
    3) If you make such a strong point on how much faster SSDs are than platters, you can't pick the best SSD and then use the hardrives you happen to have laying around the lab. Pick Velociraptors or WD RE3 7200RPM and then Seagate 15K7.

    Thank you
  • mutantmagnet - Monday, April 6, 2009 - link

    It's irrelevant. Raptors don't outperform SAS which are better in terms of performance for the GB paid for. There's no need to belittle them when they are clearly aware of the type of point you are making and went beyond it.

    So far I've found these recent SSD articles to be a fun and worthwhile read; and the comments have been invaluable, even if some people sound a little too aggressive in making their points.
  • virtualgeek - Friday, March 27, 2009 - link

    Just wanted to point this out - we are now shipping these 200GB and 400GB SLC-based STEC drives in EMC Symmetrix, CLARiiON and Celerra. These are the 2nd full generation of EFDs.

    Gang - this IS the future of performance-oriented storage (not implying it will be EMC-unique - it won't be - everyone will do it - from the high end to the low end) - only a matter of time (we're currently at the point where they are 1/3 the acquisition cost to hit a given IOPS workload - and they have dropped by a factor of 4x in ONE YEAR).

    With Intel and Samsung entering to the market full force - the price/performance/capacity curve will continue to accelerate.
  • ms0815 - Friday, March 27, 2009 - link

    Since modern Graphic cards crack passwords more than 10 times faster than a CPU, wouldn't they also be greate Raid Controllers with their massive paralel design?
  • Casper42 - Thursday, March 26, 2009 - link

    I would have liked to have seen 2 additional drives tossed into the mix on this one.

    1) The Intel X25-M - Because I think it would serve as a good middleground between the SAS Drives and the E model. Cheaper/GB but still gets you a much faster Random Read result and I'm sure a slightly faster Random Write as well.

    2) 2.5" SAS Drives - Because mainstream servers like HP and Dell seem to be going more and more this direction. I don't know many Fortune 500s using Supermicro. 2.5" SAS goes up to 72GB for 15K and 300GB for 10K currently. Though I am hearing that 144GB 15K models are right around the corner.

    Thanks for an interesting article!
  • MrSAballmer - Thursday, March 26, 2009 - link

    SDS with ATA!">">

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